North Philadelphia community activists are set to meet with SEPTA officials Wednesday to to voice their opposition to abbreviating the name of the late civil rights leader Cecil B. Moore on the buses that run along the avenue named in his honor.
The route sign on the Route 3 buses that run along Cecil B. Moore Avenue was changed from "Cecil B. Moore Ave." to "CB Moore Ave." in December, officials said. Jerri Williams, a spokesman for SEPTA, said the change was made so the sign would be more visible to riders. The Route 3 bus runs from 33d Street to the Frankford Transportation Center at Bridge Street and Frankford Avenue.
Melvin Dorn, a North Philadelphia community activist, said the change "disrespected the legacy" of Moore, who led protests against the segregation of Girard College in the 1960s and other civil rights initiatives in Philadelphia.
In a letter to SEPTA officials, Dorn, representing a group called the Cecil B. Moore Freedom Fighters, said the organization and its supporters were "requesting that SEPTA restore the full name of Cecil B. Moore."
"We believe the abbreviated form, CB Moore, takes away from the full historical significance of his life, devotion, and sacrifices to uplifting the dignity of a people who lived in Philadelphia at a time of Jim Crow laws (legal segregation and discrimination)," Dorn stated in the letter. "If it was not for African American community leaders like Cecil B. Moore, the majority of African Americans in this city would not be working in many careers that were once offered only to white citizens."
Williams said SEPTA was not trying to diminish the legacy of Moore, but was trying to make the signs easier to see as the buses near the stops. Frances M. Jones, a community relations specialist with SEPTA, said signs on buses throughout the system were changed to make them more visible.
On the previous signs on the buses the full name was displayed on two lines, officials said. The current signs are on one line and use a larger type face.
Williams said SEPTA officials were mindful of the activists' concerns and did not intend to disrespect Moore's legacy. She said the meeting would be at SEPTA headquarters in Center City at 11 a.m. Officials want to meet with the activists and "lay out all the different options, hear what their concerns are, and explain" why the change was made.
She said among the options would be to leave the signs as they are, restore them to the original two lines, or put the full name on one line using a smaller size.